The seventh book in the Black Jewels series, published March 3, 2009.
Genre: fantasy romance
Dena Nehele is a decimated land. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand … without a leader and without hope.
Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who knows Protocol, remembers the Blood's code of honor and lives by the Old Ways. Languishing in the Shadow Realm, Lady Cassidy is a Queen without a court, a castoff. But when she is chosen to rule Dena Nehele, she must convince bitter men to serve once again.
Theran’s cousin Gray is a Warlord Prince who was damaged in mind and body by the vicious Queens who once ruled Dena Nehele. Yet something about Cassidy makes him want to serve - and makes him believe he can be made whole again.
And only Cassidy can prove to Gray – and to herself – that wounds can heal and even the whisper of a promise can be fulfilled.
I think I have read this book 4 or 5 times now, and I still love it. There is not as much tragedy as in the first books in this series, and I love revisiting this realm time and again. The worldbuilding is just awesome, and I love everything about it.
3 years ago, the evil Queens and those of the Blood they had tainted, were destroyed by Jaenelle, the Queen of Ebon Askavi. A great cost to herself, and those she loves. Dena Nahele is the country that suffered the most. After the purging, the landens rose against The Blood, and now there are no Queens left, and only one hundred Warlord Princes. They need a Queen to rule them, to keep their volatile and aggressive tempers in check. Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, and the Queens who ruled the country before evil took over, were from his family (see: the Invisible Ring). He will take the quest to ask for a favor from Daemon Sadi, as he once helped his ancestors fight of Dorothea SaDiablo for a little longer, also as he has now the highest ranking Jewels in Dena Nahele.
Unfortunately for Theran, he does not find Daemon at the Keep, but Saetan SaDiablo, and he does not recognize the higher power at all, and is kind of insulting. He does not even want to tell his name. Saetan is still very protective of Daemon, and doesn’t like Theran. But Daemon agrees to see Theran, and he is send over to SaDiablo Hall where he is really shocked that the butler is a Red Jeweled Warlord, which means he outranks Theran.
Theran also dismisses Jeanelle because of her looks, he cannot sense the power within her, which means he has failed the most important test already. But Jeanelle wants to hear his request, as she has seen something in a tangled web that concerns Dena Nahele.
When Theran asks for Daemon’s help in convincing a Queen from Kaeleer to come back with him and rule Dena Nahele, Jeanelle knows the perfect woman. She is not a strong Queen, she only wears the Rose Jewel, but she knows the old ways and Protocal, and that is what Theran needs. As she is also not beautiful, as Theran thinks a Queen should be, he doesn’t like her on sight, and is disappointed that he did not get more choices. Daemon also forces some heavy rules on him, and he is to report weakly to him. There will be a trial period of one year for now. And the thing that Theran is most upset about, he will have to accept the Purple Dusk jeweled Sceltie witch Lady Vae with him. She will help train him in Protocol and the old ways.
Cassidy is an unhappy Queen, living with her parents again. She has ruled two small villages before, and she really thought she was a good Queen, but her whole first circle dropped her for a young and vibrant girl who charmed them all. And without a first circle, a Queen is not really a Queen. But now she has the chance to mean something for a whole country, and teach them the old ways. She is determined to do right by Dena Nahele and all the inhabitants, be they Blood or Landen.
Theran organizes for Cassidy to meet all the Warlord Princes and Warlords left in Dena Nahele, so she can choose her Court. She needs 12 males to serve her, and Theran himself will be her First Escort. Those males are rebels and rogues, living in secret camps in the mountains for the past few centuries, and fighting the evil Queens and their warriors when ever necessary. They are not used to serving a Queen, and not really willing to either. But they know they need a Queen if the land is to be fertile again.
And so Cassie’s rule begins, and it is difficult, as especially Theran opposes most of her ideas as he just doesn’t like her, and doesn’t want her for his Queen. As the last Grayhaven the rest of the Court look up to him, and as they reside in his families’ mansion, they mostly defer to him. But when Lucivar drops by for a visit, he teaches them the importance of learning Protocol and following the old ways. And slowly a real Court starts to form.
Then there is Prince Gray. He was tortured as a young boy, and has not really grown up since. Scarred inside and out, and too afraid to live inside the family mansion. But when he sees Cassie for the first time, something starts to change inside of him, and he wants to become more as he could have been.
As typed before, I really love this book and all the characters inside. Well, except for Theran who is a superficial ass. Sure his life has not been easy, but it was better than most thanks to his last name and heritage.
I love the story itself, how they are struggling to rebuild their country, and reunite the people in it. Cassie is not young, or pretty, but she is capable, and with some help she really is the Queen they need. And that Theran just cannot see that, is his loss. I loved how this bunch of males get used to forming a Court, and taking care of their Queen.
One of the best parts, to watch Gray grow slowly into his own. And yes, he does recognize the power in Jeanelle, and becomes friends of a sort with the most scary males in this realm. I loved how he got advice about life and love from Daemon and Lucivar and Saetan.
There are also little peeks in the lives of Daemon and Jeanelle, Lucivar and Marian, and Saetan, and I enjoy that very much. The Kindred, I sure love all of those. Theran really deserves Lady Vae and she does not hesitate to bite him if he doesn’t listen to her.
I do recommend this book to all lovers of fantasy romance. Anne Bishop really is the best in this genre. If you haven’t read this series yet, you are missing out on a great adventure.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian